Has this ever been you?
Um, yes. Me too. There are so many times when I want to get inside a student's head to figure out exactly what he/she is thinking.
It's GOOD for students to explain their thinking. It helps solidify their ideas and their learning, as well as help them clear up misconceptions on their own.
In order to develop our students' verbal reasoning, I looked for a way to frame their thinking and become independent in their explanations.
I started looking in to Visible Thinking - and I love it!
Visible Thinking has routines that help students frame their ideas and discuss their thinking. These can be done verbally, in writing, or both!
In 5th grade, we started comparing decimals with a class discussion. Students had to compare 2.587 and 2.98. Of course, they picked 2.587 as the greatest, because 2.587 was longer. This started a great discussion about the value of each digit. At the end of the class period, we wanted to see how students' thinking had changed through the discussion. We used the routine "I used to think___ but now I think____". Students completed this on their whiteboard, and it was very interesting to see what they came up with.
In 4th grade, we used the "See, Think, Wonder" routine to explore rounding numbers to different places. I wrote on the board a series of numbers, such as:
527 --> 530
642 --> 640
987 --> 990
Students first discussed what they saw. This is simply surface-level observations. Then, they discussed what they thought about what they saw. This gets a little deeper into what is happening with these numbers, what the pattern is, or what the "math" behind the numbers is. Then they discussed what they wondered, which gave me a good gauge as to what they knew about rounding and what gaps they had. Students first thought about their response, then discussed with a partner, and then shared with the class. This kept all students engaged in the routine.
I love using the Visible Thinking routines because it's like opening up a student's brain and seeing what is going on inside. These routines also develop ELL's language in math, especially at the discourse level. It also helps students have a clearer understanding of their own thinking.
Check it out for yourself, and leave your experience in the comments!
I first identify what is not working. I find these problems fall into 2 categories - the framework isn't functioning in your room, the students aren't working to their potential. First, I run a couple days of ZONES or ZONES rotations and just observe the students instead of conferencing or pulling small groups. A question I ask as I reflect is does my whole classroom feel chaotic? Are the students confused? Is the majority of student work poor? If yes, then you might have a framework issue. If no, then I move to the second round of questions. Are a few students causing problems/distractions? Are a few students off task? Are a few students not completing work? If yes, then I will focus on a solution for these students.
Keep in mind the reasons WHY you have chosen ZONES and all of the benefits your students receive by implementing this framework. But you should not continue with the fully implemented model if it is not working. Your first priority is to make sure all students are in a successful learning environment. Make the necessary shifts to make the framework successful for your classroom, your teaching style, your curriculum and your students. Also remember that students also LOVE ZONES math. They are excited and engaged with this form of math instruction. Students will want to continue this format and will be cooperative with getting ZONES back up and running again.
If you run into any tough situations with ZONES please reach out to us! We will be happy to brainstorm solutions so you can be successful with this framework!
Hello everyone! I hope ZONES introduction and set up is going well for you. If you haven't started, it's not too late! And if you haven't started because . . . 'How in the world does this work for lower el?' . . . then hopefully this post will help you.
My math block this year is about 50 minutes long. On Mondays, we work whole group to introduce new activities and big concepts. The rest of the week we spend about 20-30 minutes on whole group instruction or completion of Engage New York worksheets (that the students cannot complete independently). That leaves about 25-30 minutes for students to work in their ZONES while I work with small groups. Within that time, I try to meet with two small groups a day. My groups are put together by ability and understanding of our current concepts.
I have gone this year to a more student led ZONES and Daily 5 time. We still work at the same focused tasks, but it is up to my students when they complete each activity. I no longer assign groups or tell them when to switch to their next activity. They know what they need to complete and mark it off as they go. If it is not complete on Friday, than they owe me some work! Telling students when to switch and policing behavior became my nightmare after last year . . . I am over it!
Here is an image of my ZONES board. It has been working really well and I am excited about the ownership and independence it is creating in my students. It also makes my life easier because . . . well . . . less policing!
With the time that we have to work on targeted activities in ZONES, I do not need to create tons of different activities for the students. I have a few things that switch out each week and a few more that switch out after a few weeks. Receptiveness in 1st grade is important for building those strong foundations. One time completing something is not enough.
I hope this helps to spark some ideas. I'll be back next month with more specifics about organization and activities!
There's one question that always lingers around this program. Why THIS program?
And the answer is always the same: balance.
Our first discovery with this concept was with literacy instruction. It always seemed as if the same kids excelled, while the same kids continued to struggle. We've all been there. Something was missing.
Finally, a new concept emerged and balanced literacy was born. The Daily 5 balanced literacy approach allowed us eyes to see this concept was going somewhere. If this works with reading, why can't it be applied to math?
Meet ZONES Math - A balanced math framework. Win. Win.
Here's how the student choice rotations for balanced literacy connects to our ZONES balanced math program.
It's almost as if they were meant to be together - ha!
Leave any questions in comments!
Recently, we had a new student move in to our third grade classroom. The ZONES time in this classroom has been running so smoothly. The students know exactly where to go, what to do, and what the expectations are. I was a little bit nervous that this new student, who hasn't been trained for ZONES, would throw a wrinkle into our math time. But, I decided it give him a few days and see how he did.
Let me tell you -- the power of positive peer pressure is perfect!
I paired our new student with a ZONES "expert" and had him follow the expert for a week. This expert explained how to use the menu and the expectations in each of the zones. The next week, our new student was all on his own, and did a fabulous job! I could tell he was watching the other students for clues of what to do next, especially when it came to making choices with the menu.
I was relieved to see how easily our new student integrated into our math time. I was also so thankful to have ZONES up and running, as it gave me time to conference with him and really get to know his strengths and struggles.
We're glad you're here!
Rescue your math class with ZONES:
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